Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Book Review: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian

With his first foray into teen literature, acclaimed author Sherman Alexie packs a punch in this absorbing novel about a Native American boy searching for a brighter future. At once humorous and stirring, Alexie's novel follows Junior, a resident of the Spokane reservation who transfers out of the reservation's school -- and into a nearby rich, all-white farm school -- in order to nurture his desire to become a cartoonist. Junior encounters resistance there, a backlash at home, and numerous family problems -- all the while relaying his thoughts and feelings via amusing descriptions and drawings. Having already garnered a National Book Award for Young Adult Literature, this moving look at race and growing up is definitely one to pick up.

Pure Awesomeness. I wish I could find better words to describe Sherman Alexie's award winning novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, but there is no way that I could possibly do this book justice. In chronicling the story of Native American teen Arnold (Junior) Spirit, Alexie not only addresses the struggles faced living on a reservation, but also those of any young adult searching to achieve their dreams and goals in life. In my opinion, the fact that this novel was based partly on his own life and experiences growing up made the story all the more interesting.

While I think many authors could have attempted to write a similar story to that which  Alexie has presented here, none of them could have succeeded in pulling it off with as much wit and insight as is apparent in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. My favourite thing about this novel was Sherman Alexie's style of writing, which flowed off the pages with charm and flair. While one moment his sarcastic and humourous quips could have you laughing out loud,  the next you would be forced into solemn deliberation of life and death. Rather than seeming out of place, Alexie is able to masterfully balance these changing moods to further reveal his themes of community and independence.

Another thing that I absolutely adored about this novel was Alexie's decision to include pictures within the pages of the book itself. Everyone who flipped through this book while I was at work and home couldn't help but raise their eyebrows at the fact that I was reading a novel with pictures in it. In fact, one of my friends and fellow English grads couldn't help but scoff at my book selection: "Shouldn't you be reading something a little more literary before you go back to school in September?"  While I'll admit that I too have often belittled books that contained pictures, the images in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian are used not only to be humorous, but also as a means of providing character development. 

Overall, while it may seem childish at first, this novel is jammed packed with  adult subject matter through its depictions of the harsh realities fazed by those living on the reserves. If you are looking for a fun and thought-provoking read this summer, then you cannot go wrong with Alexie's masterpiece. Having read and also enjoyed some of Sherman Alexie's short stories in the past, I can't help but look forward to whatever may come next from this brilliant author!

"I grabbed my book and opened it up.
I wanted to smell it.
Heck, I wanted to kiss it.
Yes, Kiss it.
That's right, I am a book kisser." 
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (p.30)

Rating: 5 Stars!!


Jenny said...

Well, with praise like that how can I resist?!

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